Oh, look - Facebook is playing fast and loose with its privacy controls again.
eWEEK reported Monday that Facebook plans to let select third-party Web partners have access to and use basic information from its users (names, profile pictures, gender, connections, and content shared using the "Everyone" privacy setting) to create a "more personalized experience" on those third-party sites.
That doesn't sound so bad, does it? Except Facebook plans to do this without getting prior consent from its users. They will have a chance to opt out of the feature, but if they don't, their information will automatically be shared with the partner sites. If I remember correctly, I spoke to Celect.org's Tony Roth about this very thing as early as last August. So far, Facebookers who have commented on the blog post announcing the changes aren't exactly happy.
In another eWEEK piece, Clint Boulton writes:
Through 9 a.m. EDT March 30, most of the 1,000-plus comments Facebook users left after the social network's blog post on the changes showed that users are upset that Facebook wants to make the service opt-out instead of opt-in.
Of course, Facebook boasts more than 400,000 users total, so a few more than 1,000 isn't many in comparison. Boulton wonders whether most will just accept these changes in due course as part of the price of using the social networking giant's services.
I think many probably will. Especially those who have grown up not knowing any other means of communication. ("What do you mean, write a letter? How do you do that?") And they will because they don't even realize exactly what they're giving up. Those of us in my generation and older, however, will probably think twice. Like my co-worker said after reading the news:
If [Facebook keeps] creeping further into my business, I'll see my way out.